MINISTERS have forked out nearly £1m to private consultants in a year to support the design and delivery of a new National Care Service (NCS) - while approving another controversial contract to global consultancy firm PwC, the HoS can reveal.

The revelation comes as separate analysis reveals that a further £515,301 has separately been spent on contracts with private consultants over the delivery and planning of health and social care services over the past two years - which was not directly connected to the planned NCS.

It has further emerged that in the biggest contract award, global accountancy and consultancy firm KPMG is receiving over £90,000 a month to prepare ministers for the new care service covering the mapping of “current models” of health and social care across Scotland and producing a “high level road map for delivery”.

It has triggered a new row over outsourcing health care contracts to private consultants.

Over half of the private contractors bill has come in relation to the creation of a new National Care Service (NCS), data received by the Herald on Sunday shows.

It has emerged that ministers have sanctioned paying another contract to global consultancy firm PwC for undertaking analysis and the production of a report for the public consultation of the new care service The £68,360.00 deal will involve analysing the views of social care service users, social care sector workers, unpaid carers, care providers, relatives, and other stakeholders.

PwC were the only company to tender for the work.

The deal was struck after ministers had been accused of breaking the law by giving another key contract to PwC last year - but failing to use its own Scottish system for procurement which aims to make it easier for national businesses to supply goods and services to the public sector.

PwC was awarded the initial £107,000 deal for "mobilisation expertise" for the NCS including a “high-level roadmap towards delivery of design".

It involved the company working on a plan to set up a “agile design team for National Care Service” and produce a “high-level road map for design milestones”.

HeraldScotland:

According to the Scottish Government's Public Contracts Scotland (PCS), on April 18, 2016 it became a "legal requirement" for "all" Scottish public sector bodies to go through them to advertise all goods and services being sought valued at over £50,000. This is confirmed through the terms of the Procurement (Scotland) Regulations 2016.

But the contract fell under the Scottish radar as it was only advertised and awarded through what the UK Crown Commercial Services framework agreement instead.

The union Unite has protested over the "substantial sums of public funds on consultants relating to health and social care services.

Pat Rafferty, Unite Scottish Secretary, said: "The Scottish Government has chosen to waste precious public money on outsourcing contracts to private consultants.

"It is money which could have been given directly to front line staff through decent pay rises.

"The question needs to be asked as to why we are wasting public money on consultants when we have vast experience, expertise and knowledge in the nation's various public bodies which can do this work.

"We have had much fanfare from the Scottish Government over investment in the health and social care sector but the reality is that our members, who are on poverty pay, are not seeing any benefits."

Establishing a National Care Service is a key Scottish Government policy for the Holyrood term and is due to be fully up and running by 2026.

There have been more than 12,000 Covid-related deaths in Scotland and over a third occurred in care homes.

Nicola Sturgeon has said the reform of adult social care would be a “fitting legacy from the trauma of Covid” and would be the “most significant public service reform” since the establishment of the NHS.

The biggest national care contract so far that has gone to KPMG was for just six months work and is worth £546,000.

HeraldScotland:

The British-Dutch professional services company which was the third-biggest winner of public sector consulting contracts in the financial year to March 2021 previously received close to £3m in government contracts since the start of the pandemic to support Scotland’s health and social care services including the Covid-19 vaccination programme, and two other smaller contracts.

The latest £63,654 national care service contract is 'resourcing overseer' and has gone to Pertemps Recruitment Partnership.

The year-long deal asks the companyto work with the wider programme to "recruit and retain permanent and temporary resource"s to enable the delivery of the National Care Service programme.

A further two-month contract worth £49,000 has been awarded by ministers to French multinational consultants Capgemini for the provision of international research into social care systems and approaches.

Ministers are also offering a £75,000 12-month contract for an external VAT adviser for the National Care Service.

Part of the job will be to produce an options report exploring the VAT implications of "different National Care Service local delivery body scenarios".

Unite say the two increases in the hourly rate of pay over the last six months for social carers in the private sector occurred with no negotiation or consultation.

Mr Rafferty added: "It would be fascinating to know how much time the Scottish Government spent consulting or negotiating contracts with KPMG, PriceWaterhouseCoopers [and others]. The private consultant gravy train is well and truly being oiled while health and social care workers are having to fight tooth and nail for better jobs, terms and conditions.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “All contracts awarded by the Scottish Government are subject to robust and fair processes that adhere to the principles of transparency and to procurement legislation.  Where it makes sense to use external expertise to free up civil servants to focus on the policy development and implementation, we will do that, as other governments do.

“The establishment of the National Care Service will be a very complex process and it will be important to remain focussed on what achieves the best possible outcomes for people accessing care and support and care workers, as well as  ending the postcode lottery of care.

“We procured both PWC and KPMG’s specialist services to advise us on how best to make sure that we remain focussed on outcomes and people whilst we establish the National Care Service. Neither contract involved these companies designing or delivering any aspect of the National Care Service.

“We also procured PWC to provide us with an independent analysis of the responses to the National Care Service consultation.”